The Way Home’s Evan Williams Discusses the Many Layers of Elliot Augustine

Evan Williams uses his talents to bring to life Elliot Augustine on Hallmark’s The Way Home. That’s a challenge that requires him to feel on the outside looking in, as Elliot has longed for belonging since his youth.

For Elliot, The Way Home Season 2 has moved beyond the initial drama of time travel as he tries to understand his place in the world and within his adopted Landry family without losing what makes being an Augustine so special in its own right.

We had the chance to chat with Williams and pick his brain a little to see what insight he could offer about Elliot’s struggles and his longing for love.

How would you compare the Elliot we know so far in Season 2 with the Elliot we met in Season 1?

Good question. I think that Elliot is like an onion. We’ve just been peeling away those layers. I think at the beginning when we first met him, the thing that led the charge was his obvious love for Kat.

And that was so, I think, incandescent; it was just so obvious that audiences really just started to root for Elliot because everybody roots for love.

I think that in Season 2, we start to see the baggage, and we start to see the actual skeleton and frame of somebody who has been carrying that love but also has the task of being a human being and having to exist, and that maybe it’s not so simple.

I’m hoping that the love is still clear, but I think the writers are doing a great job at recognizing that love is only real when it’s made real by the human heart, and part of having a human heart is being a human being, which means it’s complicated.

And so there are many sides, and we are starting to see into them. I think Elliot is a complex guy.

Well, we learned just how much baggage he has just from life in general. How bad things were with his dad?

Victor viewed the other founding families with derision and blamed them for his lot in life, yet Elliot found solace with one of those founding families. Do you think Victor knew that? Do you think maybe Elliot did it almost on purpose? What is going on there?

Oh, I think that it definitely must have stung to see, if you already have a chip on your shoulder about the founding families, to see your own son, in a way, changing sides or betraying you.

I’m sure that stung for Victor, and I’m sure that Elliot was not unaware of that as well. Even though he was a mature guy, at 16, he’s still a kid. And so we don’t have the facilities to know what is our fault, what is not our fault, what do we actually hold a responsibility for.

And so I think that Elliot, in the same way as he does in the present day, even as a kid, tried to carry everything on his shoulders. Part of his outlook on life and part of the way that he relates is as a result of having to carry this burden.

And there has to come a time when one has to examine those burdens and think, “Hey, what’s really mine to carry and what is not?” And so it’s a journey that I’m really excited to see Elliot going on because the clearer he can get internally, the clearer he can get externally, which will pay dividends for love.

He has so many secrets. We also learned he never fully shared with Kat what was going on at home, which seems almost impossible with as close as they were, and yet, as an adult now, he wants everybody else to be 100% honest with him while he’s not being 100% honest with anybody in his life.

That’s true.

What’s going on with him and this secrecy? Do you think he’s still holding on to something so huge that he won’t be able to accept that other people have secrets until he can confront whatever it is? 

Yeah, I am not going to say too much. It’s just a really exciting story we’re telling, and I want people to be able to experience it. But one thing I will say is that the characters in The Way Home universe tend not to be Machiavellian. There are people who are doing things for their own reasons.

I think Elliot has shown by now that even the secrets he’s keeping, although secrets may be misguided, are at the heart of it. Most of these characters are keeping secrets to try to protect each other. And just because that was the case doesn’t mean that the result can’t be incredibly damaging.

And so I think Elliot is still trying to figure out how to manage everything. And just because he’s had 20 years of knowing about time travel doesn’t mean he knows how to operate.

And we have to remember that with time travel, not only do you have the ability to lose the people you love or who love you, but you also have the ability to completely destroy the fabric of space/time. And so it needs to be very carefully done.

And I think Elliot is careful sometimes to a fault, but the fact that a secret might be trying to help doesn’t necessarily keep it from being a time bomb. Literally a time bomb. Oh, that’s good. I like that.

Yeah, I don’t want to say too much. But Elliot has got some secrets, and I think that anybody in his position would be challenged to know what to do.

Do you think that the reason why he hates secrets so much is because he keeps so many?

That’s possible, yeah. That’s a good idea. I think that the things that we project are things that we don’t accept within ourselves. I think that, psychologically, I think that’s always true as an underpinning. But yeah, maybe.

And he’s lived his whole life obviously knowing about time travel.

His adult life, yeah.

Well, since he was a kid. He got that lesson really early on, and he lived with that by himself.

But what I find fascinating is that he’s not, and maybe it’s because he’s known this, but he’s not really that interested in knowing about the Augustines now that Kat has met them.

And if it were me, I would want so badly to know about my family history, and he hardly asks any questions at all. Why do you think that is?

I think, to an extent, it’s because we have a very limited runtime on this show, and you’ve got to pack it all into 42 minutes. And so definitely, the thrust of the scene is about what is going to advance the plot.

As someone who is illuminating the character, I feel like Elliot is incredibly interested in his Augustine lineage, and he does ask about it.

But when Kat talks about things that are life and death and have such stakes, such as, “I think I found my brother who’s been lost in time for 20 years,” I think that Elliot, in typical Elliot style, is going to defer to what’s important at that moment instead of saying, “Hey, hold on, could you just give me some background? I would love to just talk about my family for a while.”

Except when he discovers Kat has let Susanna in on the secret, he throws that idea to the wind. He said, “No, now this is about my family and what you people are putting us through.”

If he had asked a question or two about Susanna or if the show had allowed him to do that, it might not have come as a surprise to him to find out that Susanna found Jacob connected because they both felt like outsiders.

Her discovering he was a time traveler almost did more for her than against her because then she felt even more connected with the man she loves.

She knew something was different about him, but to find out just the magnitude of it, I think, brings them even closer together as characters.

Yeah, I think that something that’s really being highlighted this season is the difference between Kat’s experience traveling through time and Elliot’s relationship with time travel as an outsider.

Because of the things that Kat knows and the things now that the audience knows because they’re with Kat, Elliot doesn’t know those things. He doesn’t know the exact nature of what went down between Susanna and Kat. And he does ask. He says, “What was Susanna like?”

He’s curious, and he wants to know, but he is also trying to… He puts it on his shoulders to feel like he has to manage the delicate balance of the time/space continuum.

And because he’s been thrust into this position as sort of the unwitting trackkeeper of time.

And I also think in this episode, the parallels with Victor and getting to see into the deep-seated issues that Elliot has, not only with his family but with… I think it’d be impossible not to feel, even just in a small way subconsciously, like Kat’s recklessness with Susanna, which is some sort of confirmation that there might be something to what Victor had been saying all those years ago.

And especially in this specific episode where Founders Day, everything is all coming up. It’s all very close to the surface. And so I don’t think it’s that Elliot is trying to be inconsistent. I think maybe he just needs some therapy.

And Kat would be nice to offer information and not make him dig for everything. However, they have that stupid pact that they made and then deleted. I can see why the two of them might be dancing around each other a little bit, but it just is not helping them at all.

No, it’s really not. And there are still the remnants of the decision that Elliot made at the end of The Way Home Season 1, which I think I really stand by and defend, to try to figure out what his life means to him. And he has spent so long being just in dutiful service to Kat, no matter what.

And I think he’s realizing that that isn’t really what love is. Devotion is one part of love, but there also needs to be authenticity. And Elliot is, I think, trying to figure out how to show up in that way.

And I think a previous Elliot, if he had come up and heard this information about Susanna, he probably would’ve bitten his tongue. He probably would’ve gone, and he would’ve gone and sat up in the barn and wrote some angry poetry or something.

So, even though I think there are some sides of Elliot that are coming out this season that aren’t as agreeable, I really do believe that it’s all in the service of trying to figure out this authenticity that he needs to be able to really show up with.

His Founder’s Day speech talked about the Augustines as basically the keepers of history, which I hadn’t really known. Was that new information? Because I wouldn’t have gotten that without the speech.

Yeah. Elliot’s ancestor, Samuel Augustine, wrote The Founding of Port Haven.

Oh, okay. Okay. Yeah.

Yeah. In the same way, Victor was the one with the ship logs, etc. And so we see evidence in multiple different generations that that’s been the Augustines’ place.

Perhaps Elliot’s not the only one who’s been flying a little under the radar, and maybe this question about authenticity has been generational as well.

Do you think that speech will impact how he acts going forward now that he’s remembered the importance of the Augustine family to all things Port Haven?

We’ll see. I think that there’s definitely the possibility of it. I think that, especially with the 16-year-old Elliot, there’s very much a feeling of, why me? Why is this happening to me? Especially this year, and it’s portrayed so beautifully by David Webster and this idea of poor Elliot.

Even in the fan response online, when we do tweeting and stuff, so much is like, “Poor Elliot. I want to give Elliot a hug,” and things like this.

I think that accepting who you are and accepting not only who you have always been but also what you have to offer and how you can serve is the first step to true empowerment.

And I, for one, really want to see Elliot empowered because it’s clear he’s got a lot of love to give, he’s very capable, and he’s an intelligent person. So if he can get on board, I think not only can he keep you a lot happier, but he can also be a lot more powerful as an ally to the Landrys and help them solve their problems as well.

And where do you think that the relationship between Elliot and Kat stands right now?

At the end of Episode 5?


Yeah. Let me just think back. It’s clear they both love each other, and it’s clear that it’s complicated. It’s clear that it’s not simple. And Elliot is clumsy in his attempts to try to figure out how to stand up for himself and how to be responsible.

Because of that, Kat is like a heat seeking missile, and Elliot has always known just to sort of stay out of her way. And so now that he’s getting in her way, she is not having that at all.

I think that there’s always potential, especially when we saw, when they were in the gazebo, all it took was 15 seconds of truce and for them to really just look into each other’s eyes. And let’s not forget this is a love that has been brewing for 20 years.

They know each other so well that, in a way, when they start to fight, they know how to cut each other the deepest. This is how human beings are. They say you always hurt the ones you love. It’s because you know each other’s buttons. You know each other’s soft spots.

And when you are hurt, the reflexive thing to do is to hurt back, even though you both know that’s not what you want to do. And so I think because of how much love there is, there is that much vulnerability, which means the potential for pain is there.

So they have some work to do, and we’ll see if they can work through it. It’s a tough crossroads because, for an interpersonal one-on-one relationship, both people need to be heard, accepted, and held.

But at the same time, when you’re dealing with something so large as time travel or the precipice of solving this mystery that’s been breaking everyone’s hearts for decades, it’s hard also not to feel like the one-on-one stuff is indulgent or pedantic or there isn’t time for it.

And so I think that they’re caught between these two worlds because they both want to find Jacob. And at the same time, there’s no denying that there’s true love between them.

Do you think it’s a true romantic love or just love?

I think it depends on who you ask, and maybe it depends on when you ask them. Elliot says at the end of four that the love has always been there, and it always will be.

And I think when you see them in the rare moments that they can actually just rest in each other’s eyes, the spark is there every single time.

So, from what I know about love, I think it’s like the seed that is struggling to germinate, and there’s always the potential that if it can just catch that it will grow into a mighty majestic tree that will bear fruit. How’s that for a metaphor?

That’s perfect. There is this big event coming that we think Alice will witness. Even though he’s not admitting he knows how she reacts to it, he probably does because she keeps returning. Without giving anything away, how would you describe the remainder of the season? Not just with a couple of words.

[laughs] Well, I think I’ve shown by now that I can’t answer any question with just a couple of words.

Well, good. Because I just lost my ability to use them, so you do it for me.

Well, I’m just so excited about this show. It’s hard not to just ramble about it. The trajectory of the season in episode five makes a definitive upswing, and that trajectory is carried out through the rest of the season. The stakes just get higher. The surprises get bigger.

The revelations get deeper. We are really proud of the second half of the season. I’m proud of the whole show, but we have all kind of confirmed to each other that the second half of Season 2 just goes off. It’s off the hook. It’s so exciting.

And it’s especially exciting because we know how closely people are watching and how deeply they’re invested. I know that the team that we have, part of their mandate is to be so responsible with our audience. So, what’s the word?

They’re so caring of their hearts and of their investment that we, while at the same time we are rocking the boat and we are challenging assumptions and expectations, we also know that the reward and the healing that can come from this story is so potent that we’re excited to let it out into the world.

Well, not any more excited than we are to see it.

That thrills me. It was a question. At the beginning of the show we didn’t know if people would be into it.

It’s a bit of a departure, a different storytelling style, and not the kind of show you can watch while washing the dishes. And the feedback has been that not only are audiences ready, they’re clamoring for it.

Right. We need fewer shows that you can watch while doing the dishes and more that require attention, in my mind.

Yeah. Just do the dishes an hour before, you know?

Yeah. Or an hour after-

That way you have time to watch.

… and then you have time to ruminate.

Yeah. And ruminate. And then you can do your rewatch. Yeah, it’s great.

New episodes of The Way Home premiere on Sundays on Hallmark Channel.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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